Sunday, June 2, 2013

Final Stop Melbourne

A Melbourne tram
We have travelled from London to Melbourne by train, bus, motorcycle, boat taxi, tuk tuk and (reluctantly) plane.  We have also ridden camels and elephants and swam in seas and oceans with thousands of fish.

On the way here we passed through Germany, Poland and Lithuania, we travelled almost the length of Russia, on through Mongolia, spent 3 months in China, 2 months in Vietnam, 7 weeks in Cambodia and 7 weeks in Indonesia (a visa stop in Bangkok doesn’t count as part of the “travelling” but I suppose it's fair to say we passed through Thailand).

Friday, May 31, 2013

Road Trip - The Amazing Great Ocean Road

Skippy
We gratefully took possession of Paul’s Dad’s car (thank you Henry) and were finally independently mobile.  We had enjoyed our time in Adelaide; I finally met my in-laws and Paul was surprised at how much the city had changed since he was last there almost 20 years ago.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Australia - First Stop Adelaide

The infamous magpie-larks
So, we are finally in Australia.  But first a little about our journey here from Indonesia.

We were both dreading the flight, each for different reasons.  Paul was returning after an absence of nearly 20 years, and he had seen little of his family during that time (apart from his mother who came over to England 10 years ago and his brother who visited in 2007).  He hadn’t seen his father or his sister since he left the last time in 1994.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Bali (2) - A Reunion and Farewell to Asia

The Wooky in a dress
So while Paul was diving the waters around Tulamben having close encounters with sharks and the cast of Finding Nemo I was fretting about whether my Australian visa was still valid.  But I had less time and inclination to conjure up disastrous scenarios once Boris and Léa arrived with her sisters for a couple of days.

Léa and Boris arrived late at night on our second day and I was in for a shock the next morning when I was out on our little veranda having a cigarette at 6.30am when the door of the bungalow opposite creaked open and a tired looking Léa poked her little head out.  She had never been an early riser when we were on Derawan, something I often envied as I wasn’t able to sleep beyond about 7am.  However, Léa told me that ever since Derawan, when we would wake them up early to watch the sunrise, they had gotten into the habit of waking up early but she assured me they welcomed this change in their routine.  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bali (1) - Last Stop Tulamben in the Shadow of a Sleeping Volcano

A view of the sleeping volcano from the upstairs bar
I haven’t waxed lyrical about Indonesia’s history because as it is such a large and scattered country with long history including a period of Dutch colonial rule, and religious beliefs vary across the spectrum contributing hugely to the distinctly different regions of which we have only visited three in 7 weeks so we have only scratched the surface.

Reminders of the colonial era remain throughout Indonesia.  The Japanese occupied much of Indonesia during World War II and the Dutch tried to regain control when the war was over but were finally forced to grant Indonesia independence in 1949.  There have been many period of conflict throughout this vast and diverse country, too numerous to mention here, but nowadays it remains fairly stable. 


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sulawesi (2) - Donggala and Diving with Germans

Sunset reflected on the clouds
After another gruelling 2 day journey involving local boat from Kadidiri to Wakai followed by a 5 hour ferry trip to Ampana, ojek (motorbike) ride to hotel where we overnighted before heading off the public minibus to Palu the next morning and finally an hour’s taxi ride to Donggala.  We were more than relieved to reach the Prince John Dive Resort situated in Tanjung Karang on mainland Sulawesi.

In Dutch colonial times, Donggala was the major port in this part of Sulawesi before the harbour silted up and they started to use the harbour at Palu instead.  Nowadays Donggala is a sleepy little town with lots of old traditional houses which we saw as we passed through on the taxi ride to the resort.  It is a town of little colourful houses and a small streets and it is hard to reconcile it with its important role in days gone by.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Togean Islands (2) - Kadidiri and Volcanic Diving and Snorkelling

Paul captured this amazing shot
Although tiny, Kadidiri was much busier and social than Island Retreat.  We opted to stay at Black Marlin Dive Resort and we are glad we did although either of the other two options would have been good too.

Black Marlin is managed by an English guy whose management skills leave a lot to be desired.  The dive masters, Nick and Zina, are fantastic, as are the Indonesian staff but if the place was reliant upon Crispin’s customer service skills I suspect the place would barely survive. 

Food was included in the room rate and we had heard the food was awful at all the resorts here but we actually found it OK by Indonesian standards.  Yes, there was a lot of rice and fish, but it was all very nice (and I can be fussy).